I can’t begin to tell you how many times my “guyness” has gotten me into trouble. I don’t need the instructions. It’s obvious, but then as I get deeper and deeper into the project, I begin sheepishly looking for the directions.
The same is true about church. Many people don’t feel the need to study the Bible. They just want to go by their instincts but how many of us have bought a used car or tried to put together a computer just on instincts? (I won’t ask for a show of hands.) If our feelings get us in trouble in life, why should we trust them for decisions with eternal consequences?
So, let’s be reasonable. If we are going to please God, we need to know what God desires. It is certainly possible for God to speak to each one of us (and many people claim God has spoken to them) but that hasn’t been my experience. In fact, I suspect the voices most of those people are listening to are just echoes of their imagination. I say that because the one thing we should expect of God is consistency. There are many reasons to believe the Bible is the Word of God (and we’ll talk about those reasons in the future) and so it is reasonable to compare what these people are saying with what God has already revealed. If there is a contradiction, I’m going to stay with the Scriptures.
Other people interpret the Scriptures in light of ecclesiastical traditions. Those traditions get modified periodically to meet present circumstances. It must feel very secure to have a thousand years of tradition supporting your beliefs but what if those traditions and interpretations are wrong? Obviously then tradition isn’t on the same footing as infallible Scripture.
I believe The Bible is the full and final revelation of God and as such is the rule for matters of faith and practice. Not only is it possible to understand the Bible, it is God’s will that we do so. To the extent people have strayed from the pattern, they must return to it.
“Honey, have you seen those instructions? This looks pretty complicated and I want to get it right!” (See 2 Timothy 1:13.)